Philadelphia/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on April 21, 2024
Former Philadelphia Officer Pleads Guilty to Murder of Unarmed 12-Year-Old, Awaits SentencingSource: GoFundMe

An ex-Philadelphia police officer, Edsaul Mendoza, has pleaded guilty to the murder of 12-year-old Thomas "T.J." Siderio. The fired officer entered the plea on Friday, admitting to shooting the young boy who was, according to prosecutors, on the ground and unarmed at the time of the fatal incident. In addition to the murder charge, Mendoza also pled guilty to possession of an instrument of crime, announced the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office. A sentencing date remains undisclosed, as reported by AP News.

In a case that has gripped the city, details emerged around the events of March 2022 when Mendoza and three other plainclothes officers attempted to stop Siderio and a 17-year-old companion, the latter being loosely associated with a gun theft investigation. The confrontation escalated when a shot was fired from Siderio's weapon, breaking the window of the unmarked police car and injuring one officer. Mendoza, in a poor judgment call that would to forever alter many lives, gave chase and ultimately shot Siderio in the back. Information obtained from NBC News highlighted the grand jury document detailing the pursuit and shooting.

The plea agreement has been met with frustration and despair by the Siderio family, who contend that the charges do not carry the weight of the crime committed. "It's heartbreaking, it's earth-shattering, it's devastating. They got it wrong. He should be held to a higher standard than you and I," Joanne Payne, the boy's aunt, said in a sentiment echoed by family members. They believe justice has not been fully served, expressing that, "the sentencing that they are offering is nowhere near the balance of the scale," as told by Payne to 6abc. Mendoza, a five-year veteran at the time of the shooting, was discharged from the Philadelphia force only a week after the incident by then-Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. The family's lawsuit against Mendoza and the city, filed earlier this year, cites the death as the result of a grave failure in department policy.